Why live a life that’s perceived as mad?
My life is a love story.
My life is a celebration of adventure, heartbreak, challenge, capability, and storytelling, the characteristic to which I hold myself dearest.
My love story started in the mountains. From the granite walls of Yosemite, where I explored with my mother, a heritage passed on to me, to the glaciers of the Himalayas, the jagged walls of the North Cascades, the thin air of the Rockies, and the icy landscape of Rainier, where I learned about life, death, sacrifice, and redemption. I found something greater than myself. I found friends, stories, and unforgettable faces. I’ve fallen, I’ve bled, and I’ve sweat, but I’ve always assured that I’ll end the day smiling.
I still struggle to comprehend the life I’ve made for myself. Climber. Skier. Writer. In the last year I’ve had the honor to talk to my heroes, tell their stories, learn from them, and share their stories with others in the hope that somewhere, someone is looking up at the mountains like I did and wondering ‘someday’. I didn’t grow up in the mountains. I dreamed my own path and made it go forward, breaking the preconception that if you come from a flat part of the world, and don’t start climbing until your mid-twenties that you can’t make something of yourself. I now dream of many others having that opportunity.
But it doesn’t come without struggle.
In this past year, my body and my heart broke. But never my spirit. From that day in the hospital bed, I only thought about the day I could come back. I get to relive the great moments of my life. My first time walking. My first time on a bike. The first time I skied. The first time I climbed. When I fell, it because I was giving everything. I refused to play it safe, and instead I get to tell the story of the fall and the comeback. Just like Rainier.
Madness. The defining characteristic of passion.
It’s those stories that I look back on fondly. That time that I drank champagne for my birthday while my tent collapsed around me in 80-mile-per-hour winds. The day where we got caught in a snowstorm at 13,000-feet and fought our way through the wind and cold back to camp. That one time that I nearly biked into the backside of an Alaskan bull moose. Joy comes from being able to smile at the difficult moments. Fearlessness isn’t the absence of fear, it’s how you present yourself when the time comes to stand up.
Why am I here?
I’m here because my mentors, my role models and my climbing partners, who inspire me to be greater, push farther, dream bigger, and move forward. I’m here because I found the creativity to tell stories that matter and do the same to someone that someone did for me.
My choices may not always be the best ones. I’ve been called crazy, my ideas may not always make sense, and sometimes I dream bigger than I can take. But crazy isn’t always a negative connotation. I can’t change what I’ve done because it’s made me who I am. It’s been in those moments of difficulty where I’ve discovered who I am and what I’m capable of.
Question madness. Not as a symptom or a twisted characteristic. Question why madness drives greatness. Question why madness drove Shackleton across the Arctic ocean. Question why madness took us to the moon. Question why madness breeds adventure, adventure breeds curiosity, and curiosity breeds inspiration.
Why do I do it?
I can’t imagine life without it.